It has been approximately four months since I last visited our music therapy program implemented alongside partners Panzi Foundation at their aftercare facility, Maison Dorcas, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On my first day back I immediately noticed a distinct change; as our beneficiaries filed into our recording studio, I observed they had all brought notepads with them containing lyrical, melodic and thematic ideas for songs – in the past, beneficiaries would often arrive empty handed, dependent on the guidance and creative prompting of our staff.

Along with their prepared ideas, they had mapped out which member should sing which part, behaving like a passionate and engaged band, tending deeply to their art and final product. The song they were working on was called “The Criminal Father.” It denounces the abusive, misogynistic, repressive (sometimes perpetrators) and unproductive men in their communities. It is a clever and sophisticated homage of defiance, dedicated to youth who have had negative experiences with irresponsible fathers or other authority figures, and advocates for more mature women in regards to their husbands.

“Our father, you caused us so much suffering,
If you get money you spend it on our own matters and now we live like orphans.”

Even more incredible is that it was one of the survivors who came up with the concept for the song and genesis of the lyrics. I can attest that in watching these women sing and record this piece with such strength, vigor and pride, was amazing. This song symbolises the life-changing power one has over re-framing their past, while carving out a new identity, one song and joyful voice at a time.


by Darcy Ataman

Founder, Make Music Matter


The above is a re-post of the original blog posted on the Humanitarian Innovation Fund website.


Make Music Matter Annual Report 2015

2015 saw the full launch of our Music Enrichment Program at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The results so far have been staggering, showing a significant reduction in PTSD, trauma and depression amongst participants.

We are excited to share the year’s highlights with you in our inaugural Annual Report.

Have a look to find out more about our specialized brand of music therapy and our plans to expand programming in the coming year.

January 18, 2016


Vivid and Compelling, New Music Highlights Resilience and Faith

(Los Angeles, CA and Winnipeg, Canada) The Panzi Hospital and Foundations and Make Music Matter, with support from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund released the second album from their joint music therapy program today. “My Body is Not a Weapon” (français: Mon corps n’est pas une arme) presents a vivid and compelling voice for the artists who began their journey at Panzi Hospital as patients, many of whom are survivors of sexual violence.

Make Music Matter CEO Darcy Ataman said, “I am immensely excited to share the second album from our music therapy program at Panzi. We are proud to witness the patients transform into artists. Through this program we witness the inherent healing power of music.”

The title track, “My Body is Not a Weapon” features Swedish musician and rapper, Timbuktu, who spent time at Panzi Hospital and worked directly with participants in the music therapy program, and visited with Sweden’s PMU, one of Panzi’s partner organizations.

Naama Haviv, Executive Director of Panzi’s USA Foundation focused on the power of the program not only for the patients, artists, and Panzi staff but also “how the impact of this program will strengthen the fabric of families and communities.”

Haviv continued, “This program contributes significantly to results in our overall holistic healing model, as envisioned by Dr. Denis Mukwege. Medical treatments, followed by psychosocial care and innovative therapies like music therapy, and the literacy and vocational training, microfinance, legal assistance, and other components we provide, heal so much more than one person. The music from this program is more than inspiring. It’s life affirming.”

Make Music Matter’s Ataman noted the impact could be felt at community concerts held at Panzi, where the artists performed on two separate occasions. “Being in the room, witnessing their resilient strength and sharing in that moment for them as artists, reinvigorates the program and renews all our spirits.”

The copyright for all lyrics and music are held by the artists who have given the Panzi Hospital and Foundations and Make Music Matter permission to share and disseminate the songs on their behalf. The music is available on Soundcloud. Lyrics and production information may be found here, and will be provided upon request. Panzi Foundation DRC staff and information may be found here.



An invaluable responsibility, when working in the international development and human rights sphere, is to ingest overwhelming facts and statistics and transform them into flesh and blood realities. Everyone has a story that deserves to be heard. Often with the intransigent nature of conflict in areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), these stories can get lost in the distortion and the collective trauma can get passed down from generation to generation, contributing to a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Therefore it is important to highlight individual success stories; memoirs of those whose resiliency cuts through the noise and demonstrates that the cycle can indeed be broken.

During my last field visit to the DRC for Make Music Matter and the lead partner on the project Panzi Foundation USA, one of our beneficiaries helped to pen a song, “My Body is Not a Weapon,” during group sessions in our music therapy program at the Panzi Hospital. It is a sanguine expression of hope, acceptance and empowerment, immortalized in a memorable pop anthem. It validates the emotions and feelings of a survivor of sexual violence by letting her voice be heard, helping to forge new dreams that ripple out to the wider community.

This particular beneficiary of our music therapy program is a 16-year old girl who has already had two children born from rape. At the age of 15 she became a survivor of sexual violence by a neighbouring soldier who invited her out for a soda and subsequently drugged her. Distressed and tortured by the memory, she eventually relented to her anguish and told her parents what had happened. They did not believe her. When she confronted the soldier who perpetrated the crime, he did not accept that she had become pregnant from him and threatened to kill her if she talked about it any further. Four months after giving birth to her first child she was brutally raped again by two men who broke into her home one evening. It was at this point that she was afforded the opportunity to access Panzi Hospital where she currently resides in their aftercare facility, Maison Dorcas, along with her second child, in order to physically, emotionally and psychologically heal. One of the issues from her resulting trauma is that she has not been able to accept her baby. She confessed that every time she sees him, she remembers the fight that occurred between the men who broke into her home to rape her and how it has left her feeling powerless and broken with a dejected future. Because of this she has shown no love for the child, rejecting him completely and neglecting his care, blaming him for the pain and predicament she is in.

However, the alchemising of her pain and suffering to empowerment and joy was a wondrous transformation to witness during my latest 4-week stint on the ground. Near the end of my trip the time came to put on our first community concert in which the first CD of material would be performed by our beneficiaries in front of their peers and general public. During each rehearsal I would monitor and observe her progress, ensuring that she continued to be part of the group that would sing this song live. After each trial run, fragments of joy would increasingly emerge on her face as she received more feedback from each mock performance. When the time came for the actual concert, all of her shame and reticence seemed to melt away. She confidently took to the stage in front of 300 plus concertgoers, who danced, sang along and demanded an encore…an entire community singing along to words and melodies that she had helped craft. The symbiotic exchange of energy between audience and performer, taking ownership in their own healing, was amazing to witness but even more astounding was what happened next. As she walked off the stage post-encore she immediately went to her child, picked him up and lovingly held and kissed him for the very first time. The healing power of music reconnected her disparate parts and gave her the ability to accept and love her baby. I can confirm that this behaviour has continued to normalize, helping to break the cycle of trauma, one voice and song at a time.

by Darcy Ataman

Founder, Make Music Matter


The above is a re-post of the original blog posted on the Humanitarian Innovation Fund website.


HIF logo     panzipr

July 7, 2015


Panzi Foundation USA and Make Music Matter Collaborate at Panzi Hospital’s Maison Dorcas

(LOS ANGELES, CA) Panzi Foundation USA has embarked upon an innovative music therapy program to support psychosocial healing for survivors, vulnerable community members, children, and staff with its partners at Make Music Matter. Supported with funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, “Parce Que J’ai Mal,” (Because I Hurt) is the debut song from this program.

The Executive Director of Panzi Foundation USA, Naama Haviv, said “Through our partnership with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, we are honored and excited to share the music and lyrics written by the survivors in our aftercare program at Panzi Hospital’s Maison Dorcas facility.”

She continued, “The true innovation of this program is that the women, children, and staff at Panzi are treated not as patients but as artists; creating, writing, and recording professionally-produced songs. “Parce Que J’ai Mal,” is the first of several songs that will be released, all of them powerful reflections of the healing journey our participants at Panzi have embarked upon.”

Darcy Ataman, Founder and CEO, of Make Music Matter said, “The ability of music to re-stitch the soul and deliver a message is timeless. The intersection of creativity, inspiration, and cultural change is critical to healing not only the individual but the families and communities where it is produced.

“The program is led by local Congolese producers and psychologists, working to implement this new therapeutic music model with the survivors at Maison Dorcas. Their innate resilience shines in their powerful, sincere songs. Our goal is to share their inspiring strength, and show how the greater holistic healing model envisioned by Dr. Denis Mukwege is driven by each woman.”

“Parce Que J’ai Mal” translates to ‘Because I’m in Pain.’ It is a profound expression of a survivor reckoning with the physical and psychosocial impact, and the search for a path to healing. Panzi Foundation USA and Make Music Matter produced lyric videos in English and French. The videos appear on the Panzi Foundation USA YouTube channel. MP3s and additional media are available upon request.


Lyrics in French and English below.

English Lyric Video:
French Lyric Video:

Editor’s Note: The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) is a non-profit grant making facility supporting organisations and individuals to identify, nurture and share innovative and scalable solutions to the challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance. Visit for more information.

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is a programme managed by ELRHA (Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance) and co-funded by aid from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


Solange, Sandra, Pascaline, Irene

Jeune Dorcas


Tempo: 100 bpm

Key: G

French Lyrics:
1. Chaque jour de ma vie
Je me sens trahi par mon image

Chaque fois quand je me regarde
Dans un miroir Je perds espoir

Il y a tant de larmes qui ont coulés sous mes Joues chaque soir

j’ai peur du noir
J’ai peur d’être seule sur une route pavée d’imprévus

R/ Alors je me noie, noie, noie noie seul
Je me cache loin, loin de tout
Parce que j’ai peur.

2. Et souvent je voile ma souffrance par un rire ou par un sourire

Et si vous saviez combien je souffre
A cause de mes souvenirs

Je ne vois plus d’avenir
Et quand je parle de ma vie
Je ne vois que des sourds qui m’entourent

Comment oublier
comment avancer
Comment stopper tous ces viols

R/ Alors je me noie, noie, noie noie seul
Je me cache loin, loin de tout
Parce que j’ai mal.
English Lyrics:
Every day of my life
I feel betrayed by my image

Each time
When I look myself in the mirror
I lose faith

Each night
So many tears have flowed down my cheeks

I’m afraid of the dark
I’m afraid to be alone on the road
paved with the unexpected.

So I drown, drown, drown myself
I hide faraway, from
everything because I’m afraid

2. And I often buckle my suffering with a laugh or a smile

And if you knew how much I’m suffering
because of my memories

I don’t have faith in the future
and when I talk about my life,
I only feel the deafness around me

How to forget
How to move on
How to stop rapes

so I drown, drown, drown myself
I hide faraway from everything
because I’m in pain

This statement is also available in French. Interview or speaking engagement requests for Dr. Mukwege may be submitted via email or telephone to Elizabeth Blackney,, 541.390.1913. Panzi Foundation USA is a 501(c)3 organization, founded in 2010 by Dr. Denis Mukwege to build awareness, and support the work of our partners, primarily the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DR Congo.

Photography of survivors at the hospital requires special arrangements.

Your continued support of Dr. Mukwege, the Panzi Hospital and Foundations, the survivors and communities makes a profound difference, every day. We are grateful to share this journey with you.

Please stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.



Denis Mukwege

(STRASBOURG, FRANCE) “The vote in Strasbourg at the European Parliament regarding conflict minerals is a victory for human rights. We are at a turning point in the dialogue. The legislation mandates refiners, smelters, manufacturers, and importers of products containing tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold to ensure the components are sourced responsibly through upstream and downstream channels. The new law demonstrates ethical governance is not only possible, but required.

“A decisive majority of the Members of the Parliament (MEPs) prioritized the comprehensive nature and scope of this law. This law provides the position and framework for negotiations with Member States and the Commission, and it reflects the progress made through binding legislation in the DRC, several other African Nations, and the United States.

“A conflict-free minerals industry would contribute to ending the unspeakable violence the people of Congo have endured for years. Government must not only enact strong legislation, they must be willing to enforce the law. Companies bear the responsibility of compliance and public disclosure, and acting transparently as consumers are increasingly aware of conflict-free components on the market.

“Tens of thousands of legitimate miners would benefit from a clean, transparent minerals industry. Communities and families torn apart by conflict deserve a viable path to peace. At the Panzi Hospital, we have treated 40,000 survivors of sexual violence. Their bodies are used as the battlefield, leaving them with physical and psychological scars as a result. The mineral trade is one of the components that drive suffering in Congo.

“The European Parliament has made a strong commitment today. It is my hope the Member States will strengthen their commitment as well. The conflict has cost too many lives and livelihoods. We must act in unison to bring peace and transparency to the mineral trade.”